Why You Should Make Improving Resilience Your Life’s Priority
You are bound to encounter a handful of setbacks at some point in your life. It can affect you drastically, possibly compromising your career, relationships, financials, or even health. In the face of a setback, some refuse to be knocked down completely and find a way to keep going. Others, however, shut down completely and give up altogether, leading to greater long-term stress. Just what exactly allows you to be the former rather than the latter? The answer is simple, resilience. This is why improving resilience must become a priority in your life.
Resilience is a trait that can allow you to face difficulties with a more positive perspective in mind. While you may still encounter a great deal of hardship and even pain, resilience allows you to get past it and even overcome it. It propels you to move past your current situation while believing that things will eventually get better. What you may not realize is that resilience improves not only your spirit but your overall health and wellbeing as well. That’s because this trait may help keep chronic stress from attacking your body with devastating consequences.
How Your NEM Stress Response Works to Take on Life’s Setbacks
When you are determined to get past a setback and achieve a positive outcome, your body also becomes able to handle stress much better. This, in turn, benefits your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system.
Generally, your NEM Stress Response system refers to the way your body copes with stress. When stress is still mild to intermittent, it triggers the release of certain hormones in the body to allow you to defeat it. Among these is a stress hormone known as cortisol. During times of stress, cortisol prompts your body to respond accordingly by increasing your heart rate, respiration, blood glucose, and blood pressure. Essentially, it prepares you for fight or flight.
When Kept Unchecked, Stress Can Trigger AFS
The problem is, this type of response does not work well when it comes to chronic stress. Because this type of stress tends to persist over a long period of time, it can cause a dysregulation in your normal hormonal output. During the earlier stages of stress response, cortisol levels will keep rising to help you get back to normal. If the stress is not alleviated, however, your cortisol output will eventually reach its maximum level and subsequently drop because your adrenals are no longer able to keep up with the body’s cortisol demand. When you do nothing to relieve your stress your body may bear the consequences. In fact, your health may rapidly deteriorate as you experience Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
How AFS Progresses Without Resilience
When you allow stress to take hold of your entire life, your AFS may get worse. You may as if your body is turning itself against you. For starters, even when you know you got enough sleep the night before, you would still have difficulty getting up with AFS. You can also wake up feeling ‘foggy’ or even extremely tired. You may also suffer some mental impairments, particularly when it comes to your memory.
Physically, you would also notice that something is wrong. You could be losing hair for no apparent reason. Your skin would also become thin and feel dry or you may suddenly experience significant pain on your neck or upper back. Aside from this, you may experience sudden weight gain that is particularly evident around the waist area and find that shedding it is almost impossible.
When you allow AFS to progress, you may encounter even worse symptoms, such as heart palpitations, mild depression, and hypoglycemia. Fortunately, may be a way to keep this from happening without the need for drugs – change your outlook on life.
Research Shows Resilience Can Stop Stress from Weakening You
One of the best way to avoid AFS or keep it from getting worse is to work on improving resilience. When you believe that things can turn out better, your mood improves. As this happens, your stress levels go down and your body becomes healthier. This is what prompted experts to explore the role that resilience plays in fighting off chronic stress and possibly its related conditions such as AFS.
According to a research conducted by Vassar College in New York, people who maintained a positive emotional state while dealing with a stressful experience show improvements in their immune function. In addition, another study also shows that those who cope with stress using humor have greater levels of salivary immunoglobulin A (S-IgA). This is an immune system protein that serves as the body’s first line of defense against several respiratory illnesses.
Positivity and resilience have also been shown to benefit those already suffering from cardiovascular disease. One study found that elderly patients who reported greater happiness for 90 days following their hospital release had significantly lower hospital readmission rates.
As you can see, having a good dose of resilience is certainly beneficial to your health. But, how can you go about developing and improving resilience within yourself?
Steps to Building Resilience
Resilience is a trait that you can gradually develop in yourself. Here are some steps that you can follow to help you get started:
Forge some deep connections. Whenever problems arise, it helps to have a network of family and friends that you can lean on for emotional support. Some people find that joining faith-based organizations, civic groups, or other groups that provide social support is also of great benefit.
Avoid looking at crises as a problem that won’t end. You must keep in mind that at some point, your situation will be resolved or at least, improve. Keep looking forward to that day and never lose hope that it will happen.
Take some decisive actions. Sometimes, the best way to resolve a big issue to take decisive action to work on resolving it. Weigh the pros and cons of the situation and proceed to respond appropriately.
Be determined to work toward your life goals. Life goals are supposed to excite and inspire you to be better. Every time you face a setback, keep these goals in mind. Remind yourself that you are working towards these goals and that a single problem can’t stop you from achieving them.
Ways to Keep Improving Resilience in the Future
Improving resilience continuously is key to making sure you are always ready to face setbacks in life with optimism. Here are some ways to keep working on your resilience over time:
Learn to become independent. You may, at some point, have allowed yourself to be surrounded by unhealthy influences and situations. Make a conscious effort to start distancing yourself from these. It’s all part of making yourself an emotionally strong individual.
Take better care of yourself. Make sure you always get enough sleep and eat properly. Exercise daily to improve your muscle strength, endurance, and form. Consider taking vitamin and mineral supplements. These are all great ways to acknowledge your self-worth. At the same time, being in a good mental and physical condition means that you are better prepared to face any problem.
Always look on the bright side. It never hurts to look at the silver lining when something does not turn out your way. For instance, if you don’t end up getting a promotion you’ve been expecting, you can choose to see it as the perfect time to seek employment elsewhere.
Before trying any remedy for AFS or for improving resilience, it is always best to be aware of any of its possible side effects. In fact, it would be better to first consult your healthcare practitioner before embarking on any form of treatment.
Setbacks do not seem as difficult to overcome if you have resilience. Because of your newfound optimism, you will also become much less prone to stress. This, in turn, will help lower your risk of developing AFS.
At DrLam Coaching, we have trained staff specializing in Adaptive Resilience Training ( ART) that can be helpful in assisting you as you recover from AFS.
© Copyright 2018 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
Why is improving resilience very important?
Improving resilience is key to making your outlook on life more positive. With a more optimistic self, you are able to manage stress more effectively or even combat it. You thus become less susceptible to chronic stress and even Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).